Making Tu B’av even more meaningful with JScreen

By: Hillary Kener

A few days ago (July 30), we celebrated Tu B’Av; a day where love is in the air and singles hope to find their soulmate while couples celebrate their relationships.  Although this “Jewish Valentine’s Day” is one of the lesser known Jewish holidays, it is still very relevant, especially nowadays when many people opt for summertime weddings.  In the Jewish community, Tu B’av also happens to be a very popular date for Jewish weddings.

With all of these weddings and romantic gestures being top-of-mind, it’s important to also be mindful of an important national effort based out of Emory University called JScreen. The JScreen genetic screening program is the first of its kind and can be used to test carrier status for over 100 different genetic conditions, with an at-home saliva test. This can help couples learn if they are carriers for genetic conditions such as Tay-Sachs disease, Cystic Fibrosis, and Familial Dysautonomia.

It’s estimated that 80 percent of children with a serious genetic disease are born to parents with no known family history for the disease, making JScreen important for anyone planning to start or grow their family. It’s important to point out that the majority of couples receive reassuring results from JScreen’s certified genetic counselors. For those that are at increased risk, there are many available options, such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) with in-vitro fertilization, to help them plan ahead for healthy children.

With the hope of encouraging friends and family to tell the happy couple about the genetic screening, JScreen started a JGift program, allowing loved ones to cover the $99 cost of the test.  “We’ve seen great success with the gift-card program, particularly among family members of newlyweds and people whose loved ones are nearing the age when they might begin trying to start a family,” said Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, senior director for JScreen. “It’s a unique gift—one that tells the recipient that you care about them and you care about their future.”

JScreen is essential in the Jewish community, in order to inform and empower those considering starting a family. It’s important to note that screening is also recommended for interfaith couples.

To learn more, visit

The Jewish Light